questions for ... Jennifer Scott
Photo by Kanji Takeno
Project ASTRO partnerships between astronomers and city schools soon to blast off
by Stuart Zang
This fall, TU is launching a local Project ASTRO site that will bring astronomy activities to Baltimore City middle-school classrooms. Project co-coordinator Scott says TU faculty, other space-science professionals and amateur astronomers will partner with local science teachers and their students.
What is Project ASTRO?
It is a program run by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific designed to improve science education— particularly astronomy education—by partnering local elementary and middle school science teachers with professional or experienced amateur astronomers. We’re focusing initially on Baltimore City students in grades six through eight.
Scientists will provide hands-on, inquiry-based activities that put students in the position of acting like scientists. Our activities conform to national science standards, and we’re making efforts to find ones that also conform to the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum.
Why did you start a Project ASTRO program for Baltimore?
There are programs in 15 other regions throughout the United States. When I was a graduate student I participated as an astronomy partner in the Tucson, Ariz. program. I was somewhat surprised there was no program in the Baltimore-Washington region when I came to TU in 2006, considering the area’s large concentration of professional and amateur astronomers.
I’m co-coordinating the program with Rommel Miranda, a colleague in the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences colleagues. Dr. Miranda is a science education specialist. He taught in Baltimore City schools before coming to TU and is particularly interested in urban outreach in science. He is using his contacts in the city schools to recruit teachers while I work to recruit astronomers.
Who will participate?
We’re looking to recruit 15 astronomers and 15 Baltimore City middle school science teachers, and have about 11 of each right now. We were aware of TU’s involvement with the Cherry Hill community, and established a partnership with Arundel Elementary/Middle School.
What do you want the program to accomplish?
I hope this will inspire more kids in the city—who don’t have much direct experience with looking at the night sky—to become interested in astronomy. Our first year is funded by support from the Jess and Mildred Fisher College and from the NASA/Maryland Space Grant Consortium, but we’d like to sustain the program beyond the upcoming academic year.
Where can people learn more about the local Project ASTRO?
Visit our Project ASTRO Web page for details.
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